NC Evaluators Week: Teaching Moments in Evaluation by Carrol Warren

Greetings fellow AEA evaluators! I am Carrol Warren and I am fortunate to have the opportunity to teach graduate courses centered around evaluation and program planning. It is through those teaching experiences that I’ve come to appreciate unique assignments that serve to engage my students as they learn about evaluation. 

Evaluators serve in a position requiring that they engage in ongoing professional development to maintain credibility, learn about current trends, and build their network. It’s not surprising that as the virtual world we live in has provided opportunities for remote learning, our memory of what we participate in can be influenced by notetaking and drawing as we read, listen, or watch experts share their knowledge. Research has shown that drawing enhances our memory substantially, and can serve as a strategy to learn despite cognitive deficits. 

Rad Resources:

Have you heard about sketchnotes? Mike Rohde is credited with encouraging the use of sketching your thoughts through doodling on paper while you learn and coined the term sketchnotes in 2006. Sketchnotes involves processing what you are learning through drawing shapes and using icons to make connections between what you read or watch or hear. If you are new to sketchnotes it’s worth six minutes of your time to watch Sunni Brown’s Ted Talk, Doodlers, unite! 

Cool Tips:

In my teaching role it’s important to me that students understand the Kirkpatrick Model for training evaluation. The course dives into the four levels of training evaluation inclusive of: reaction, behavior, learning, and reaction. Students come into the course expecting to read and write…a lot, and they do; however, it’s also important that they are able to apply what they are learning. For some students, this is only one course among many others in their graduate degree plan, and they may or may not have a vested interest in learning about evaluation theory, skills, and models. So, by designing learning opportunities allowing a space for them to tap into their creativity, I sometimes notice a shift in their interest level of the content. For example, more than one student has shared that this assignment was intimidating because they weren’t comfortable with drawing – but afterwards, they share how much they appreciate the chance to draw out a visual representation of what they are learning. 

When I give this assignment, I use google slides shared among the students in my class. Each student is asked to doodle their notes and then post a picture to a slide. I provide instructions, links to learn more about sketchnotes, and examples. The outcome is incredible and serves as a gallery of doodled notes that students can revisit throughout the course. Not only are students able to capture a visual representation of what they take away from the reading assignment, but they can learn from what sparked an interest in the same reading assignment among their peers as well. The takeaways are usually diverse and the best part is there are no rules! 

If you have the opportunity to teach others about the practice of evaluation or even if you are continuing your own learning journey, I encourage you to consider the use of visual note taking to document your understanding of the material you read. With the permission of a few of the graduate students I teach, I would like to introduce you to the gallery of sketchnotes. The topic they were asked to sketch is the Kirkpatrick Model of evaluation and you can see from the notes captured that while the same materials were read, each student took away at least one concept different from the others. 

Example of sketchnotes (visual notes)
Image courtesy of Dawn Griffin

Image of handwritten notes in different color markers
Image courtesy of Emily Tanner

The American Evaluation Association is hosting North Carolina (NC) Evaluators Affiliate Week. The contributions all this week to aea365 come from NC Affiliate members. Do you have questions, concerns, kudos, or content to extend this aea365 contribution? Please add them in the comments section for this post on the aea365 webpage so that we may enrich our community of practice. Would you like to submit an aea365 Tip? Please send a note of interest to aea365@eval.org. aea365 is sponsored by the American Evaluation Association and provides a Tip-a-Day by and for evaluators. The views and opinions expressed on the AEA365 blog are solely those of the original authors and other contributors. These views and opinions do not necessarily represent those of the American Evaluation Association, and/or any/all contributors to this site.

2 thoughts on “NC Evaluators Week: Teaching Moments in Evaluation by Carrol Warren”

  1. Hello Carol,

    Firstly, I want to say thank you for sharing your teaching moments in evaluation with us in a visual and meaningful way. I am currently enrolled in my Masters of Education and completing a course titled, “Program Inquiry and Evaluation.” As we conclude this course, I found that I was able to make many connections to your blog post. When I read that you said that research has shown that drawing enhances our memory- I could instantly relate. Even when I was in elementary school and secondary school I remember that I was always able to retain information when it was presented in a visual way. This could perhaps simply be because I am a visual learner, however seeing that research has backed up this fact I can now understand why. Moreover, I had never heard of ‘sketchnotes’ before but this is something that I can definitely see myself incorporating into my own classroom. After watching Sunni Brown’s Ted Talk- I see how efficient and useful this can be to make connections and to process information in your own way.

    Secondly, being able to read and write is crucial but I really like that you said it’s significant to also be able to apply what you learned. It can be easy to absorb and retain new information but it is often not stored or it can be difficult to apply in situations. Seeing the examples of the diverse responses of the students’ doodles truly represents the power of creativity. Through providing no rules for their responses, students are able to record information that they find important while being able to truly process and retain what they just learned. In sum, I learned a lot from reading your key takeaways of evaluation and I will be incorporating sketches/doodles within my own practice!

    1. Thank you Jessica, I’m grateful to know this post was impactful for you. Best wishes as you navigate towards the finish line of your master’s program!

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